A 2011 television commercial for Wilson Golf had an everyday player asking the bag-room attendant to, “Bring the blades … and the backups.” Although not many players actually take a set of backup irons on the course, the message was clear—muscle-back blades are fairly difficult to hit for most everyday players.
That’s not to say, however, that the old butterknives don’t have a place in the game. With that in mind, Wilson is introducing is Staff Model irons—a forged, muscleback blade iron, a modern version of a classic blade iron.
Aficionados instantly will recognize the bore-thru “Fluid Feel” hosel, which dates back to Wilson’s heyday in muscleback irons. The shape of the 8620 carbon-steel clubhead is reminiscent of the company’s recent FG Tour 100, however it boasts a milled face with a milled diamond pattern framing the scorelines (another homage to old-school Wilson blades). The irons were two years in the developmental stage.
Key to the design was input from Brendan Steele (who has extended his endorsement deal with the company until 2021), who captured a pair of victories on the PGA Tour with the FG Tour 100’s. Steele collaborated with the Wilson Labs R&D team, suggesting a more modern aesthetic without sacrificing the consistency, control and feel one expects from a muscleback blade.
“Brendan’s influence on these irons was impactful and with the expertise of the Wilson LABS team, we knew these irons were going to be an extremely polished product,” said Jon Pergande, global innovation manager at Wilson Golf.
So why would anyone want to play a muscleback blade when there are plenty of more forgiving options available? The reason is part look, part performance. Although most players irons today have a hint of a cavity-back that provides just the right dash of easy, some players simply can’t stomach the look of a slightly larger clubhead or beefier topline that often comes with a cavity-back iron. Others prefer the higher center of gravity found in most pure blade irons, allowing for lower-flighted shots into greens with short irons. Shot shape also plays a role. Today’s balls spin far less, making it easier to simply aim at the flag and fire, especially with a perimeter-weighted cavity-back. For those wishing to maneuver the ball, however, blades offer a greater opportunity to do so.
The Staff Model irons feature traditional lofts (46-degree pitching wedge) and have True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips standard. The standard set is 3-iron through pitching wedge in right-handed only. Cost is $1,200.
The irons already are off to a good start on tour. Gary Woodland used a prototype set at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, leading the field in greens in regulation for the week in finishing second.
Or in other words, bring the blades—and forget the backups.